2019 will undoubtedly go down as a disappointing year for the WIU football team as they finished just 1-11, but there were still a few bright spots. Among them were the consistent play of preseason First Team All-Missouri-Valley-Football-Conference selection at Fullback, Clint Ratkovich and the multifaceted approach of running back/long snapper Jared Drake. The pair captained WIU and their leadership qualities, along with their ability to make impacts in a variety of ways, saw the pair selected to the post-season editions of the All-MVFC teams.
Ratkovich proved the preseason hype to be accurate with his selection to the first team, as the Junior running back racked up over 700 total yards and 6 total touchdowns, while leading the team in catches with 54. He also proved especially effective in pass protection, with behind-the-scenes excellence being his specialty. He will return the WIU as one of the surefire leaders and captains of a hungry 2020 Leatherneck squad, as he will look to key a resurgence to finer days.
Drake came into WIU as a grad transfer in 2018 after graduating with a bachelor’s in sociology from Ohio State, and has shown over his two years as a Leatherneck that he can make a high level impact in a variety of ways, leading as a captain and proving effective in protection and goal-line running. He also specialized as a special teams ace for the Leathernecks as he showed a desire to get onto the field in any way possible. He really showed that desire when a innocent discussion cropped up to become Adam Fellner’s long snapper on the punt unit for the 2019 season. That discussion became reality, and he played a major role in Fellner averaging an MVFC 3rd best 42.5 yards per punt.
The Leathernecks had four further honorable mentions for the All-MVFC Team. Seniors Zach Glisan and LaCale London were joined by the aforementioned Fellner and redshirt-freshman Justin Hall, who had a remarkable debut season stepping in for the departed Justin Fitzpatrick at defensive back. WIU was only projected for 2 all-MVFC players in Ratkovich and receiver John Brunner (spent 2019 injured), so this could be looked at as the team exceeding expectations with a number of stellar performances despite the tough results.